Nairobi (MNN) — Nairobi is the economic, political and cultural capital of East Africa. A growing Nairobi business class of young, energized and educated Kenyans calls itself the "Obama generation."
But despite urban progress, more than 2 million of Nairobi's residents live where hopelessness, sickness and poverty prevail. Lifestyles commonly include crime, drugs and prostitution.
The Southern Baptist International Mission Board partners with Kenyan Baptists to bring the hope of the Gospel to impoverished and desperate slum communities. "This is where Nairobi throws its trash," says Kenyan Baptist leader Shem Okello, who ministers in Dandora.
The slum community of Dandora surrounds a city dump which around 600,000 people call home. Each day brings 2,000 tons of trash, increasing the amount of chemicals, poison and pollution seeping into surrounding soil and water.
Increased pollution results in increased illness. Common maladies include intestinal parasites, rashes, eye infections and tuberculosis. These diseases mostly affect the children constituting over half of Dandora's population.
"The main challenge we face here is poverty," said Billy Oyugi, associate pastor of Dandora Baptist Church. "A subset of that is the challenge of seeing bright young people who, because of poverty, cannot further their education."
Dandora Baptist operates a medical clinic in the dump, helping HIV/AIDS patients. It also teaches job skills to young people and sponsors a school and child development center for hundreds of needy kids. Home churches throughout Dandora are sponsored by the congregation, which offers a six-month discipleship course at their "Jesus Training Center."
Discipleship programs have also yielded positive results in other Nairobi slums. Believers in Kasabuni and Baba Dogo report changed lives after utilizing IMB's "T4T" program.
"My prayer is that these people who have received Jesus will begin a transformation," says a Kenyan Baptist pastor in Kasbuni, "so there is less wife-beating, less drunkenness, less prostitution, less drugs and alcohol."
"T4T" (Training for Trainers) is a simple discipleship program that IMB missionaries model for pastors and church members. These leaders then form their own groups throughout slum communities. "Nairobi as a Business" trains disciples from slum communities and allows believers the chance to earn an income. Click here if you'd like to support this ministry.